Inspiration Awards

Click here to print this page


The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario Inspiration Awards recognize outstanding members of the community who use their experiences, skills and voices to champion the cause of mental health to improve the lives of those living with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

The HERO Inspiration Award recognizes a person who uses their public profile to inspire others and help diminish the stigma around mental health through their own story. The HOPE Inspiration Award recognizes a health care professional for research, diagnosis or treatment in the area of mood disorders. The PILLAR OF HOPE Inspiration Award recognizes a corporation that is a leader in positively changing the landscape of mental illness in Canada. The HEART Inspiration Award recognizes an individual who has supported someone on the journey to recovery.



2013 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Lloyd Robertson, Host and Chief Correspondent, W5, and author, spent more than four decades telling other people’s stories without thinking anyone would be interested in his own. The longest-serving national TV news anchor in Canadian history had a “front-row seat” to nearly every major event of the modern era, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the moon landing, and the 9-11 attacks. Lloyd first discussed his mother’s illness in his memoir, The Kind of Life It’s Been. Award sponsored by Morneau Shepell

 BioPress ReleaseVideo 


PILLAR OF HOPE Award Recipient, Peter Kahnert, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Marketing, Raymond James Ltd.. Peter is Chair of the Raymond James Canada Foundation, which was created to enhance the volunteer and charitable efforts of the firm’s 1,000 plus associates across the country and is an active supporter of several other charities including the Writers’ Trust of Canada and  the Canadian Unity Council.

Bio Press ReleaseVideo


HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis, Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis has the distinction of holding two research chairs. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health at the University of Toronto. At the Women’s College Research Institute, and in partnership with U of T’s psychiatry department and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Dr. Dennis holds the Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research. Award sponsored by Eli Lilly Canada

Bio Press ReleaseVideo


HEART Award Recipient, Karen Liberman, Mental Health Advisor and former MDAO Executive Director. In her decade-long tenure as Executive Director, Karen was responsible for a number of technologically based mental health innovations including an online screening and resource access tool, as well as the more recent online self monitoring and recovery tool Award sponsored by Astra Zeneca

BioPress ReleaseVideo



2012 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Michael Landsberg, Host, ‘Off the Record’ (OTR), TSN’s highly acclaimed 30-minute daily sports debate show, since the show’s debut in September 1997. He was also the Whistler Host for Olympic Daytime on CTV during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Outside of his TSN duties, Michael hosts a variety of charitable events and golf tournaments each year, devoting the majority of his time to two causes: The Hospital for Sick Children and eye research. Michael has battled depression for more than a decade, and has talked openly about it to encourage others to open up and to seek treatment and support.

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Donna Stewart, recognized for her research, policy development, education and clinical service in women’s mental health nationally and internationally. Dr. Stewart is the Director of Women's Health, Senior Scientist at the University Health Network and a University Professor at University of Toronto. Her research in the mental health field has looked at depression across the life cycle, psychosomatic obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as the psychological aspects of physical illness. She is a consultant to the World Health Organization, Past President of the International Association for Women's Mental Health and Past Chair of the Section of Women's Mental Health of the World Psychiatric Association.

HEART Award Recipient, Michael Cole, the recently retired program director of Laughing Like Crazy, a stand up comedy program for people living with a mood disorder. Over many years of leading the program, Michael has shown members how to tackle personal and professional challenges and to find the humour in successes and setbacks. Through this ground-breaking program, Michael has provided hope, confidence and humour to people living with a mental illness. His commitment to providing members of the program with the skills and strength they need to work through their own illnesses has made him a consistent and positive voice of hope and support.



2011 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Mark Tewksbury, Gold Medalist for Canada in the 1992 Summer Olympics; Silver Medalist in the 1998 Summer Olympics in Soeul as part of Canada's relay team and author of autobiography entitled Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Trevor Young, recognized for his research work into mood disorders. Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Young’s main area of research includes understanding the molecular basis of bipolar disorder and its treatment. His research is particularly focused on understanding the processes that lead to long-term changes in brain structure and function in patients with bipolar disorder and how these changes can be targeted by mood stabilizing medication.

HEART Award Recipient, The Craig Family (Robin and David Craig). The Craigs have demonstrated their commitment to and solidarity with their daughter, Lorna, diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years ago. It is their hope that Lorna's and their continued courage and support in the area of public speaking about the stigma of mental illness will further reduce fear and discrimination.



2010 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Shelagh Rogers, veteran broadcast-journalist and host of flagship programs with CBC Radio, including This Morning, Sounds Like Canada, and The Next Chapter. In 2000, she won the John Drainie Award, Canada's highest broadcasting honour. She was named a Champion of Mental Health for a series she did about mental illness and the impact on families and friends and received a Transforming Lives Award from CAMH for speaking publicly about depression. The CMHA of British Columbia gave her their Mental Health Voices Award. She has also been honoured for her work in reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Sid Kennedy, an international leader in Mood and Anxiety Disorders research and education

HEART Award Recipient, Cathreine Priske,  a volunteer with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario who shared the story of her journey with daughter Leslie in the publication Dancing in the Rain.



2009 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Amy Sky, singer, songwriter, who revealed publicly in 2006 that she had dealt with depression and postpartum depression and has become an outspoken champion of mental health awareness.

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Emmanuel Persad, a recognized leader in education, research and clinical psychology has educated several generations of medical students and psychiatrists at the University of Toronto, the University of Western Ontario and Queen's University, while practicing his profession.

HEART Award Recipient, John Burghardt, a volunteer with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario who wanted to do something tangible to celebrate the special gifts of artists with mood disorders in memory of his young daughter, Rebecca, a gifted young artist who lost her life to a severe bipolar disorder. The family decided to give a gift to the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario in Rebecca’s name - and the result of that gift is Touched By Fire, an online gallery and juried art exhibition, which debuted at the Gladstone Hotel in 2007 celebrates, supports and inspires the work of artists with mood disorders.


2008 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Roméo Dallaire, Lieutenant-General (Retired); Senator; Author Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. The impact of the atrocities that Senator Roméo Dallaire witnessed in Rwanda resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Working tirelessly to raise awareness of this disorder and its impact on military personnel, he speaks publicly of his day-to- day struggles with flashbacks, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even suicide attempts. General Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). His book on his experiences in Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, was awarded the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004. 

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Anthony Levitt, a leading researcher and clinician of mood disorders. Beyond his medical expertise, he has become a leading advocate for increased public education, access, and treatment options. His compassion and caring for his patients has helped them recover from struggles with mood disorders. Dr. Levitt is the Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Women's College Hospital. He is the Director of Mood Disorders Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

HEART Award Recipient, Jacqueline Beaurivage. After rescuing her son Jonathan from the brink of suicide, Jacqueline Beaurivage became an advocate and educator on mood disorders, championing the anti-stigma cause in the community, the workplace and the press. She encourages her son to speak to other young people about his experiences, and never misses an opportunity to share her family's story. Jacqueline is a Senior Vice-President at CIBC.



2007 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, Sandy Naiman, freelance writer, public speaker, teacher and mental health advocate known internationally as a stigma buster, a longtime mental health advocate whose personal story of triumph over mental illness has inspired many. For more than 30 years, she was on staff of The Toronto Sun where she won several awards for her features. A radio personality, Woman's Editor on CHFI, and syndicated columnist on CBC - she has also appeared on television and freelanced for a variety of magazines. She has been a member of the honorary advisory council of Moods magazine since its inception.

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Zindel Segal, credited with developing Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, an innovative treatment for mood disorders shown to be highly successful.

HEART Award Recipient, David Hermakowski, a dedicated husband and partner, who has shared his wife Carolyn's struggle with depression.



2006 Inspiration Awards

HERO Award Recipient, James K Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (Retired). Prior to taking on the role of Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Bartleman had a distinguished career of more than 35 years in the Canadian foreign service. He used his position to reduce the stigma of mental illness, fight racism and discrimination, and to initiate the Lieutenant-Governor’s Book Program, collecting over one-million books in 2004, donated from all coerners of the province to stock libraries in First Nations communities, particularly in northern Ontario.

HOPE Award Recipient, Dr. Sarah Romana

HEART Award Recipient, Blair Kinsman